Wednesday, February 7, 2018

I Declare a Snow Day!

WildOne via Pixabay
I have never liked driving in the snow, and the older I get, the less willing I am to risk it. My daughter's car (a hand-me-down from my husband) drives like a tank and helps to give me the confidence I lack on snowy days but, when it comes to ice, I'd rather just stay home.

This is fine on the days when I don't have obligations, but on teaching days, I try to follow the schedule set by the college where I teach. Fortunately, I have more flexibility when it comes to canceling classes than I did when I worked in a school district, but that's a benefit I try to use sparingly.

Today, however, was one of those days. I had every intention of sticking to the two-hour delay, expecting that the roads would be fine by the time I had to venture out and on to campus. But the combination of an email from a student unwilling to brave the roads and a brief foray onto my still ice-encrusted back step convinced me that one shortened class was not worth the risk.

So I decided an e-class was in order.

I must confess that technology and I have a rocky relationship. Most of the time, my attempts into brave new (to me) online worlds work out fine. Occasionally, they fail spectacularly. This semester, it took me three adapters and three calls to IT to achieve success doing something I used to take for granted -- hooking up my Mac to a projector in the classroom. That experience left me a little wary of trying new things, especially with the class who'd borne witness to my tech challenges.

But, they're a good group of young adults, so I decided to give it a shot, trusting that they'd bear with me. Instead of venturing onto campus today, I set up a chat on our course Moodle. It wasn't an even exchange -- trying to teach new material on a new platform with short notice to everyone involved didn't seem to be a reasonable goal.

So, I set the bar a little lower. We'd meet, I'd make sure to answer their questions regarding an upcoming paper and try to nudge a little chat out of the deal.

In the end, it exceeded my expectations. Nearly everyone made it (and, most likely, more made it to the online version than would have made it into the classroom) and the time flew -- for me, at least. I was proud of me (for trying something new), proud of them (for the insights they brought to the table, so to speak) and still warm, safe and dry.

FunkyFocus via Pixabay
As we get older, it can become harder to try new things, especially with an audience. As much as I hate to admit it, I like my comfort zone, so I need to remind myself that too much time spent there can leave me more stuck and stodgy than comfortable. Part of the beauty of teaching young adults is that their willingness to go out on a limb can be contagious and, when we're all in it together, their support can make calculated risks less scary. And, if I expect them to take risks then, to a certain extent, I need to be willing to do the same.

Turns out not only can you teach an old dog new tricks, but the old dog might even find them fun.

Unless, of course, it involves driving on ice.

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